It’s not uncommon for small Vtuber agencies to fail. This shouldn’t come to anyone as a surprise. After all, 90% of startups fail. Between managerial incompetence and questionable revenue models, the road to success is paved with obstacles. Of course, a few do succeed through wise decisions and sound planning. We need not look further than the likes of Tsunderia and PRISM Project, two such startups who made it big.
Pearl Orient Production (POP)
It’s in this context that Pearl Oriental Production (POP) scouted Vtuber, Revna Ulfhild, in January 2021. ‘‘They gave me a leave of absence for a month to prepare me for my debut,’’ she told The Game Crater. During that time, POP promised to provide her photoshop training, further production assistance, thumbnail art, and a video debut trailer. ‘‘I received thumbnails on almost every previous video, but other than that, I still felt as if I was on my own,’’ explained Revna.
Despite the hiccoughs, Revna Ulfhild officially debuted as a Vtuber for Pearl Oriental Production (POP) on March 11th, 2021. However, Revna soon learned that management had bigger plans. ‘‘The CEO of the agency wanted to rebrand the company into Coral Corporation to make it more attractive for sponsors,’’ Revna commented. ‘‘I told him that the best way to attract sponsors is to show them what they want to see: concrete results.’’ To that end, she pitched a proposition to the CEO. Much like Hololive, POP had multiple branches. As such, the first potential moneymaker would be Prisma ✰ Stellar, a group of 5 talented VSingers and one of those branches. The second potential key player for POP would be Revna herself.
Revna proposed that one of the two should become the face of Coral Corporation. Prisma Stellar was new and getting traction with original songs and visual novel videos. Meanwhile, Revna was the most experienced of all the Vtubers in Fanta-C, the traditional Vtuber branch of POP.
‘‘Of course, there is nothing new in a flagship Vtuber’’, Revna added. ‘‘Tokino Sora and Kizuna AI are two successful examples of that. VShojo even went further and created a flagship group made of 5 Twitch Vtubers who already knew each other.’’ However, Revna had a problem. ‘‘I had been part of another agency called CreativeTECH, which I joined in October and left in December after its CEO resigned in disgrace for a seemingly banal reason.’’ After management finally agreed to her proposition on May 18th, she decided to rebrand her entire avatar along with the company. She explained: ‘‘I didn’t have a brand yet, so I decided to kill Revna and be reborn as the face of Coral Corporation.’’
CEO Goes AWOL
The first sign of trouble came when Revna became unable to contact the CEO. Thinking it might just be temporary, she went ahead and commissioned an artist to do the concept art of her new character. She also hashed out new lore, scouted talented freelancers for background music, and more. She would never receive any compensation for it. For that matter, she had never received a single paycheck, despite signing a contract. Little did she know, this was far bigger than herself.
Around the end of May, the CEO started becoming unresponsive. Concerned employees contacted his close acquaintances, but only got vague explanations. The company’s COO, Momoji, stated: ‘‘He has not responded to our messages since June 13.’’ Everyone in the company had tried to contact the CEO repeatedly without success. ‘‘As the COO of this company, I had high hopes for Coral Corporation when the rebranding project was announced,’’ Momoji added. ‘‘But everything started to fall when the CEO went missing in action for roughly 2 months.’’
Wave of Resignations
Stuck in limbo, frustration turned into anger, and the employees started airing their grievances. ‘‘It turns out neither Pearl Oriental Production nor Coral Corporation ever registered as businesses in the Philippines, despite the CEO insisting it would be done,’’ Revna explained. Others also complained about a sheer lack of transparency and unclear debut dates for new talents. However, the most egregious transgression of them all: no one ever got paid.
In light of these revelations, on July 30th, the VSinger group, Prisma ✰ Stellar, announced its departure from POP. Two hours later, almost everyone else resigned in unison. Both statements cited uncertain timeframes for talent debut dates, the CEO’s absence, a lack of transparency leading to miscommunication and of course, no pay.
‘‘All of us had contracts, but I guess we should’ve expected this from a company that never even bothered to register,’’ Revna stated. On the bright side, because the company never really existed, any contract between the talents and the company is now null and void. This includes Revna and Momoji’s Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Today, Revna is effectively the only one left. ‘‘That’s only because I haven’t tendered my resignation to the CEO yet,’’ she chuckled. ‘‘Think of it as a mom leaving her kids without a word for 2 months and whenever she decides to come back home, she’ll find out that they’re all gone. Well, I’m just the last one to leave.’’ She plans to further share her misadventures in a future video, and rebrand herself too. That is, once her new avatar is ready; she did pay for it after all.